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The stories told about Muslims: Live Online Replay

Categories: Canada, Community, World

How might the stories we tell as a society oversimplify the view of a diverse international community? (iStock)

Two pairs of Muslim men are believed responsible for the twin bombings that recently rocked Boston, as well as the allegedly al-Qaeda-linked terror plot thwarted by the RCMP -- both stories that have dominated headlines in recent days.

But before details about the perpetrators in either case had emerged, Muslims in North America were already anticipating a generalized backlash, while self-styled detectives hunted for innocents and reporters spoke of "dark skinned" suspects.

As it turns out, the suspected U.S. bombers were fair-skinned brothers with Chechen roots whose motives are still not well understood -- and in Canada, police credited the Muslim community with helping them foil the alleged terror plot by providing critical information.

Shades of grey

These are shades of grey in a world that often deals in black and white.

Over the past few days, several observers have taken to the web to discuss how attacks, and attempted attacks even tenuously linked to Islam may affect ordinary, law-abiding Muslims in Western democracies

Writer and human rights activist Qasim Rashid wondered aloud if anyone even hears Muslims when they condemn violence.

And Murtaza Hussain, a Toronto-based writer and civil liberties specialist, wrote of a "diffuse fear" among Muslims in Western nations who fear they will be "subjected to greater public scrutiny, abuse, suspicion and hostility."

This week on CBC Live Online, host Lauren O'Neil will spoke to three panelists about how narratives can implicate entire communities while glazing over the diversity within them.

This week's special guests were:

  • Dr.  Jasmin Zine, an Associate Professor in Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University's Muslim Studies Option. She teaches courses in the areas of critical race and ethnic studies and Muslim cultural politics, among other topics. 
  • Dr. Faheem Younus, a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland and award winning member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America. He regularly blogs about opening a frank dialogue between Muslims and Americans. 
  • Hussein A. Hamdani, a Hamilton-based lawyer and longtime community advocate who attended the RCMP press conference about the arrested terror plot suspects on Monday.

Tags: Canada, CBC Live Online, U.S., World

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